Places of Worship Walk in Bangkok (Self Guided), Bangkok

Bangkok is an old metropolis that has been home to a diverse population of cultures, nationalities and religious beliefs for centuries. While Buddhism is by far the biggest religion, spiritual tolerance has long facilitated the co-existence of other faiths in the Thai capital. In fact, some of the churches are among the most impressive foreign buildings in all of Bangkok. Take our tour to see the most visited places of worship in the Thai capital.
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Places of Worship Walk in Bangkok Map

Guide Name: Places of Worship Walk in Bangkok
Guide Location: Thailand » Bangkok (See other walking tours in Bangkok)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.4 km
Author: valery
Santa Cruz Church

1) Santa Cruz Church

Santa Cruz Church is a small Roman Catholic Church located on the east side of the Chao Phraya River close to Memorial Bridge. It is one of the landmarks of the Portuguese community at the river coast of Thonburi District.

In 1516, Portugal signed a treaty with Thailand to supply ammunitions and as a result obtained the rights to reside, trade and practice their religion in Thailand. When Ayutthaya was defeated in 1767, the Portuguese continued with their military support to King Taksin so as to drive the Burmese out of Thailand. After the destruction of Ayutthaya, the Catholics from the old city moved south to start a village by the Chao Phraya. They built the Church of Santa Cruz in the 1700s on the land gifted by King Taksin in appreciation for their loyalty. But the wooden church fell in disrepair and was replaced by a second one in 1835. Since this church had a rather Chinese design, the villagers named it “Kudi Jeen” or Chinese church. The church was built third time in 1916 by two renowned Italian architects Annibale Rigotti and Mario Tamagno.

Before Easter, people prepare the church for the most important catholic feast. They prepare a cart which looked like it was used in an Easter procession. Since Good Friday and the Saturday before Easter are the days of mourning before the celebration of the resurrection, the cross at the altar is covered by a black cloth. Behind the church are the graves of past priests.

Church of Santa Cruz is about the only clue that this part of Bangkok was the area where Portuguese merchants and missionaries once lived in the early years of Bangkok. This Church of the Holy Cross is a legacy of Thai-Portuguese relations that date back to the 16th century. The reddish dome of this Old Catholic church is a prominent landmark on the Chao Phraya River. The sidewalls of the church are decorated with stained glass etched with biblical images. A crucifix is present in one corner of the courtyard and a statue of Mary stands elegantly in the other.

On your visit to Bangkok, do not forget to see this beautiful church to appreciate the architecture of Portuguese culture and heritage.
Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke

2) Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke

Situated at the foot of the Memorial Bridge Phra Pathom, Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke is a monument in Bangkok. It is named after the King Rama I of Chakri dynasty and is built to honor the great king of Bangkok who had done many good reforms to uplift Bangkok.

King Rama I, formerly known as Thong Duang, was born in Ayutthaya on March 20, 1737 during the reign of King Barommakote. After the decline of Ayutthaya in 1767, he joined the royal palace as an officer. At the age of 25, he was promoted to be the governor of Ratchaburi Province and helped King Taksin in restoring the country's sovereignty on a number of occasions. He was also the first Somdetch Chao Phraya, the highest rank the nobility could attain, equaled to that of royalty. He was chosen as King at the age of 46 in 1782 and ruled for 27 years, dying at the age of 73.

After taking the oath as a king, Rama I decided to move the capital from Dhonburi to Bangkok because of its better strategic location and the availability of a vast land. He himself shifted to the new capital and stayed in a temporary palace made of wood. He ordered the construction of a new palace and a Royal Chapel where Emerald Buddha is installed today.

King Rama I made the country a democratic state. After digging canals for the defense of the country, he ordered the digging of the Mahanak canal strictly for the people to use as a waterway. King Rama I also revised the law making it suitable to the changing times. King Rama I gave due importance to literature. His most outstanding literary work was the epoch Ramayana that really captured the Thai hearts in all respects.

King Rama I also developed the field of architecture, sculpture and drama. He collected old Buddha images from all over the country and enshrined them in temples in Bangkok. King Rama I fought in many wars, protecting the country from foreign forces and had always defeated them. He expanded Thai territory farther and wider than it had been before. It is, therefore, deemed most appropriate to accord King Rama I the title "The Great" on the occasion of celebrating the Bangkok, or Rattanakosin Bicentennial. During his reign, Chinese immigration was also allowed in the trading and mercantile sector to sustain the country's economy.

King Rama I died on 7 September 1809. It is not wrong to say that he is the one who put the country on the path to success and glory.
Wat Samphanthawongsaram

3) Wat Samphanthawongsaram

Located near the Chinatown Gate and Wat Traimit, Wat Samphanthawongsaram or Wat Samphanthawongsaram Worawiharn is a very old third-grade royal Buddhist temple in the Sampheng district of Bangkok. Built during the Ayutthaya period, it was originally surrounded by a moat creating an island in the middle. The moat is joined the Chao Phraya River nearby. Local Thais also used to call this temple Wat Koh meaning "island temple" due to its locality being surrounded by water.

In 1796, King Rama I renovated the temple. He announced it to be a royal temple with the name Wat Koh Kaew Langkaram. Later under King Rama IV, the name was changed Wat Samphanthawongsaram in honor of Prince Samphanthawong, the son of King Rama I, the Prince who laid the foundation of the temple.

The main feature of the temple is a seated Buddha made of hollow log with a layer of lime cover. Doors of Wat Samphanthawongsaram Worawiharn are decorated with richly detailed iconography. The halls are air-conditioned - a very unusual thing for Buddhist temples in Thailand. This is done in order to provide comfort to both monks and devotees who come here to pray, meditate or join a ceremony.

Many opulent Thai-Chinese people generously donate money to this temple. This temple is worth a visit and worth spending your time.
Wat Traimit (Temple of Golden Buddha)

4) Wat Traimit (Temple of Golden Buddha) (must see)

Wat Traimit Witthayaram or the Temple of the Golden Buddha, an otherwise unexceptional temple, is the house of an astonishing Buddha image. Cast in solid gold weighing 5 and a half ton, the Golden Buddha is 3.98 m high and 3.13 m wide from knee to knee. Made of about 83% pure gold, the 15 foot tall seated image is worth millions of dollars at today's gold price.

The statue has a very unusual and colorful history. When Bangkok was established as the new capital, the Chakri Kings encouraged the transportation of Buddha statues to Bangkok by the Chao Phraya River. In the reign of King Rama III (1825 – 1851), a huge statue of Buddha apparently made of brown clay was installed in Wat Phraya Krai near the Taksin Bridge. In 1955, Buddha was moved to its present location at Wat Traimit. When the image was being hoisted into its new home, the ropes broke, dropping the statue. The plastic lacquer shattered on impact revealing a Buddha statue cast in solid gold.

The Golden Buddha was cast sometime in the 13th century and is an excellent example of the gracious Sukhothai style. This powerful image has such a bright, reflective surface that its edges seem to disappear, and it shines with such richness and purity that everyone is inspired by its strength and power. The Golden Buddha was covered in plaster and lacquer in an attempt to hide it from thieves or looters. The strategy proved to be successful and the disguise was so good that nobody knew what was hidden beneath.

The Golden Buddha is now installed at the highest level in Wat Traimit, an impressive building which has become a landmark in Yaowarat Chinatown, Bangkok. The old pulley and ropes used for hoisting the Golden Buddha and the lacquer pieces of plastic that once hid this remarkable treasure are on display in a case to the left. The 2nd-floor exhibits cover the history of the Chinese community in Bangkok and the 3rd-floor museum covers the history of the Golden Buddha image itself.

Today hundreds of devotees visit the temple daily to pay homage and pray at the feet of the Golden Buddha. Even if you are not a follower of Buddhism, you must visit Wat Traimit to see Golden Buddha. You will surely be stunned to see its incredible shine and splendor!

Why You Should Visit:
Few of the Thai temples have two quite interesting museums incorporated – this one does, allowing you to learn more about the story of the Golden Buddha and Bangkok's Chinatown.

It will cost you 40 THB to get into the temple and another 100 THB to get into the museums.
This is a sacred place, so your arms and legs must be covered. Be prepared to remove your shoes.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8am-5pm; ticket counters close by 3:30pm
Holy Rosary Church

5) Holy Rosary Church

Though primarily a Buddhist country, Thailand has traces of Christianity that reflects Thailand’s religious harmony. With the advent of Portuguese traders in Bangkok in 1567, Christianity started establishing its roots in Thailand. Portuguese built their first Catholic Church (Santa Cruz Church) in Ayutthaya – capital of Thailand at that time. During 1662 French missionaries came to Bangkok and maintained their supremacy on the Catholic Church in Bangkok for next 200 years. As a result, the Portuguese missionaries left Santa Cruz Church and established Holy Rosary Church in 1786 in Bangkok on the land granted by King Rama I. Four years after the church was established, Bangkok was declared as the country's capital.

The Holy Rosary church was rebuilt three times due to structural damages over the years. Influenced by Western Style, the present cream-colored structure (rebuilt third time from 1891 to 1898) has a high facade topped with a towering spire. A statue of the Virgin Mary stands atop its towering spire.

Local people in Bangkok call the Holy Rosary Church by the name Kalawar Church. The word Kalawar is derived as a broken word from Calvary, a place near Jerusalem where crucifixion of Jesus Christ had been done. Holy Rosary Church has a magnificent architecture of Neo-Gothic style. Colored stained glasses inside the church tell the story of the New and Old Testament.

A statue of the Virgin Mary stands in the little garden in the Sisters' quarters next to the main church building. A Crucifix is on the outer wall of the quarters while a beautiful garden at the corner with another statue of the Virgin Mary completes the scene of peace and tranquility.

Holy Rosary Church is one of the old 67 churches in Bangkok. You must visit it as it has always been a favorite place for Catholic devotees and the focal point of numerous photographers and artists.
Assumption Cathedral

6) Assumption Cathedral

Assumption Cathedral is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bangkok. It is located in the Bang Rak district of Bangkok, near the Chao Phraya River. Materials for the construction of the Church are imported from France and Italy. The cathedral was named Assumption to honor the passage of the Virgin Mary to heaven after her death. On St. Mary’s Day on 15 August, she is commemorated at the church during The Feast of the Assumption.

The Assumption Cathedral was established as the result of the work of French missionary priest Father Pascal in 1809. The original building was built in 1821, during the reign of King Rama II. The present cathedral building dates back to between 1910 and 1918, when it was rebuilt in the Romanesque style. The church has a relatively tall rectangular structure with a red brick exterior which makes it prominent against its surrounding white buildings. The tall square towers flank the main entrance. The ceiling inside is very high and is adorned with many ornate decorations. The reconstruction was funded by a local Teochew Chinese Catholic, one Low Khiok Chiang - proprietor of a business nearby.

The Assumption Cathedral suffered heavy damage from bombings during World War II but was restored after the war. It underwent extensive refurbishing in the 1980's and 90's with the addition of stained glass windows. It was visited by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Bangkok in 1984.

Considering its importance, the Assumption Cathedral should be on the must-see list of anyone visiting Bangkok.
Mariamman Hindu Temple

7) Mariamman Hindu Temple (must see)

Located in Bang Rak district and standing proudly on the corner of a busy street, the Mariamman Temple is one of the two Indian style Hindu Temples in Bangkok. The main god of the temple is Maha Mariamman also known as Uma Devi. She is the renowned Goddess of Death worshipped for her power to protect her believers against disease and death. Many important deities of Hindus are present in the shrine and worshippers can pray there. Some of these statues were specially brought from India to be placed in the Bangkok temple. The crowded courtyard also contains a small shrine that houses the Shiva Lingam, a symbol associated by some to a phallus.

The area around the temple is crowded with stalls of different kinds, many of them selling flower garlands to the visitors as a way to pay homage to the gods inside the temple. A gold shop is also strategically located near the temple because for Indians gold is a metal of demi-gods and monarchs.

In the early years, worshipping at a Mariamman Temple situated anywhere in the world was restricted to Hindus only. Nowadays, the temples are open for everyone including worshipers as well as tourists.

The Mariamman Temple is rich in colors and ornaments. It is designed and built in the Chola and Pallava architectural style which is particular to the temples of southern India. The elaborate carvings on the walls and the exterior of the temple catch the eye of the beholder. The smell of burning incense sticks spreads through the air and if you pass by them while the worshipers are lost in prayer you will know what they mean by calling this a "mini spiritual India".

Why You Should Visit:
If you're keen to visit an Indian temple outside of India, then this is a must!
Small but very detailed – there's something amazing to look at wherever you turn.

Unlike most other temples, once you enter photos are not to be taken.

Opening Hours:
Sat-Thu: 6am-8pm; Fri: 6am-9pm
Free admission

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